Nowitzki joins Germany for Euro championships

Dirk Nowitzki, whose MVP heroics helped Dallas Mavericks win the NBA title, will play for Germany at the European championships, hoping to lead his country to the 2012 Olympics.

Nowitzki joins Germany for Euro championships
Photo: DPA

“The break was rather short but I want to help my young national team succeed at Euro 2011. I will try to be in my best shape,” said Nowitzki. His decision boosts Germany’s chances of qualifying for the Olympics.

Nowitzki’s participation had been in question, because it means the 33-year-old playmaker will only have had only a two-week holiday before he begins training again. He won the NBA Finals with the Dallas Mavericks on June 12.

German national team coach Dirk Bauermann was overjoyed at Nowitzki’s decision. “This is the most sensational and fantastic thing that I have ever witnessed from an athlete,” he told the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper.

“I can’t think of any reason why he would do this to himself. But that he’s doing this for our young players shows what qualities Dirk has,” he said.

The two finalists at the August 31 to September 18 European event in Lithuania will qualify automatically for the Olympics with the third to sixth-place finishers going into a qualifying tournament.

AFP/The Local/bk

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Brussels warns Italy to rein in public spending amid pandemic

Most EU member states should continue to invest to support the continent's economic recovery, but heavily-indebted Italy should rein in public spending, the European Commission warned on Wednesday.

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi expects the country's GDP to recover in the coming year. Photo: Alessandra Tarantino / POOL / AFP

“The economy is bouncing back from the recession, driven by a rebound in demand across Europe,” EU executive vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis said.

“But we are not out of the woods yet. The economic outlook remains riddled with uncertainty,” he said, warning that the coronavirus is still spreading, prices are rising and supply chains face disruption.

Despite these unpredictable threats, European officials predict a strong recovery, and want eurozone governments to maintain their “moderately supportive fiscal stance” to support investment.

EXPLAINED: How Italy’s proposed new budget could affect you

Italy, however, remains a worry. Its public debt passed 155 percent of its GDP last year, and Brussels is worried that it is still budgeting to spend too much next year.

“In order to contribute to the pursuit of a prudent fiscal policy, the Commission invites Italy to take the necessary measures within the national budgetary process to limit the growth of nationally financed current expenditure,” the commission report said.

The commission did not say by how much Italy’s spending plans should be reduced, and its recommendation is not binding on the government.

The European Union suspended its fiscal discipline rules last year, allowing eurozone members to boost their public spending to help their economies survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

But the European commissioner for the economy, former Italian prime minister Paolo Gentiloni, said governments should now “gradually pivot fiscal measures towards investments”.

“Policies should be differentiated across the euro area to take into account the state of the recovery and fiscal sustainability,” he said.

“Reducing debt in a growth-friendly manner is not necessarily an oxymoron.”

Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, a former European Central Bank chief, has said Italy’s economy is recovering after the pandemic-induced recession.

Draghi forecast economic growth this year of “probably well over six percent” in a statement on October 28th.

Italy’s GDP rate grew by 2.6% in the third quarter of 2021.

While economists don’t expect Italian GDP to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels until 2022, ratings agency Standard & Poor has revised its outlook for Italian debt from stable to positive.